Nails: Ugly Christmas Sweater
Gina made a special effort to come in on time today.
“And finally," says Holt from the front of the briefing room. "I understand there is an anonymous holiday gift circle taking place. Technically it is beyond my power to stop this from happening. I, of course, will not be participating.”
"Pip pip!" says Gina.
As instructed, the team go into lockdown. Terry and Jake move to either side of Holt -- Jake hurdling desks to get there, Terry taking a more sedate route down the centre walkway with Hitchcock scattering thumbtacks behind. Meanwhile, Charles and Amy clatter the blinds down the windows. Rosa places herself beside Gina in a protective, axe-wielding position.
Gina takes a deep breath and braves a look at the door. Scully has taken up position directly in front of it, stance wide and hands on his hips, shirt nowhere in sight.
“Ewwww,” says Gina, and punches Rosa’s non-axe-wielding arm. “That’s the sort of thing you were supposed to be protecting me from.”
“Told you it wasn't wasn't worth it.”
“Minus seventeen points to Rosa,” says Gina.
“Excuse me," Holt interrupts, and eyebrows Jake's hand on his bicep. "What exactly is going on here?"
Gina says with gravitas, “The Secret Santa gods deemeth you will participate, Captain.” She shakes the ready-prepared hatful of names under Rosa's nose.
The Captain surveys the room. “Far be it for me to invalidate your religion, Gina,” he says. “But aren’t you, my administrator, the Secret Santa gods?”
“That I may be,” says Gina. “But you owe me, Captain. Remember when you forbade me from rehearsing dance moves in your office and then Floorgasm danced me out? That was a very distressing time for me.”
“Last weekend you invited Kevin to a ritual burning of your Floorgasm equipment.” Holt frowns. “And sent him away with a party bag consisting of the remains of a singled blackened ballet shoe. You seem to have gotten over your distress.”
“You left Kevin alone with her?” blurts Amy, exchanging a look with Terry that Gina interprets as overwhelming jealousy regarding Gina’s exceptionally good hair. “Without supervision?”
“Kevin is very fond of Gina,” Holt replies. “Interdepartmental politics around the time of my birthday party were reaching new heights and at one point he considered calling it off. I persuaded him not to and with Gina unknowingly distracting the Psychology department, the Classicists were able to perform a number of devastating blows upon them.” His gaze goes distant.
With the air of one trying to get the discussion back on track, Terry says, “Sir, Secret Santa is commonly understood to be an innocent bonding experience for the holidays. Not--” he flails around with his beautiful muscly arms. “Well, whatever you think it might be.”
“Yes, thank you, Sergeant,” says Holt. “I am familiar with the concept.”
“Don’t worry, Captain,” says Jake. “We all know what you want for Christmas. A chauffeur and a limo service. No, a lamborghini service. A rainbow lamborghini service. No price spared, nothing less than the best for the best.”
The Captain looks alarmed. “On the contrary,” he says. “If I were to participate, which I will not, the customary hundred dollar--”
Gina, Terry and Amy clear their throats in the grossest of choruses.
“That is to say, fifty--”
“Twenty green, Captain,” says Jake.
“I do not expect you or anyone to spend more than the allotted twenty dollars,” Holt says firmly. “And this discussion has reminded me why I do not join in with present-giving games.”
"Captain Holt, Sir," says Gina. "If you don’t play, I’ll spend all week doing paperwork. Who knows what you’ll find on your return from your Hawaiian retreat.”
The Captain spends a delicate moment processing. Then he says, “I believe I will be participating after all.”
The Sarge pats his elbow comfortingly.
Mid-Mid-Morning Coffee Break
Nails: Ugly Christmas Sweater With Added Snowflakes
Gina clears her throat.
Amy shrieks and whirls around. “Captain, I’m really not good with permanent spinal injury. Maybe you could come out of your office and tell your administrator to --”
“Linetti, what the hell are you doing,” interrupts Rosa. “Get down from there before you kill someone.”
Terry hurtles through the room towards Gina’s tower of wheelie chairs. “Just drop down into my arms, Gina,” he coaxes. “I’ll catch you, don’t worry.”
Gina beams. She didn’t even tell him to say that. She pushes off from the topmost chair -- which is in fact an upturned trashcan -- and floats into Terry’s arms below.
Assorted detectives breathe a gentle sigh as one. “Just like I always imagined,” she informs them all from bicep heaven, and taps Terry’s chest to indicate she’s ready to be let down. Amy sags a little against Jake’s shoulder, who hands her a Kleenex to dab at her face.
“And now that I’ve got everyone’s attention,” says Gina. “It’s time for the Secret Santa name-selection process. In the interests of anonymity, I have pre-prepared nameslips. Again, I would like to remind you all that this is an anonymous gift exchange, and if you tell anyone who your recipient is, I will find out. I will creep into your kitchens and sabotage your vegetables. I will remove your turkey dinners from your plates even as you eat them. The molten sky will fall and trap you in your houses with your aunts and families-in-law for a week, and you will be left with only Brussel sprouts and lumpy gravy to satiate your hunger. If you venture outside, the sky will render you bald.” She shudders. “You are not all a Captain Holt or a Terry. I do not recommend baldness to any of you. Charles, if you tell Jake who you get, I will cut off his manly parts.”
“And then I will cut off yours,” promises Jake.
Boyle lifts his chin. “Aye, aye,” he says to them both. “A worthy punishment.”
“Yes, when paired with the aunts and Brussel sprouts and baldness,” Gina agrees. She reaches into her desk drawer for the Hat. “Captain --” Holt jumps -- “would you do the honours?”
Holt steels himself. “Good luck to you all.” He directs his gaze to a far corner of the room and reaches into the Hat.
“Presents are due on Christmas Eve,” Gina informs them as the Hat travels around the room. “That is six days away. There is a mandatory check-in with me mid-week.”
“Oh, boy,” says Boyle when he unwraps his name. Jake, who has put Scully and Hitchcock between them, punches the air at his.
“There is a $20 limit,” Gina continues. “I will be checking receipts at your check-in.”
Amy makes a valiant attempt at controlling her face.
“How are you doing now, Captain?” asks Jake. “Thinking you should re-book your vacation for June? Lost in the possibility of a world where --”
“I am thinking none of those things,” says the Captain in his most wooden voice. He angles his head at Gina. “It seems to me as if Peralta is attempting to break the anonymity clause by pressuring me into revealing my recipient.”
“I won’t let any of you near him,” yells Boyle, dashing past Scully and Hitchcock to stand with one hand on his gun and the other slapped across Jake’s mouth. “Jake, you stop talking this moment.”
Jake mumbles something against Boyle’s hand, nose scrunched up in disgust.
Gina doesn’t sympathise. “Thank you for taking this so seriously,” she says to the Captain. “Jake, you have just used up your one childhood friendship pre-strike. As we are not Christmassing together this year and I know who you have at your Christmas table, if I were you I would be more careful of the risks you take.”
Jake turns grey and shuts up immediately and Gina bows. The circle disperses, casting admiring looks Gina’s way.
Nails: Santa Hats
“Getting there,” Jake pants, hefting a large plastic bathtub and what looks like Amy’s toolkit across to Gina’s desk. “More importantly, I have no idea what Boyle is doing or who he is doing it for, or even who he isn’t doing it for, having declared a week’s silence between us.”
“I miss you,” Boyle calls mournfully across the room.
“La la la I can’t hear you,” yells Jake, dropping the tub on his foot to jam his fingers in his ears.
Hitchcock and Scully
Nails: Santa Hats With Bells On
“How does giving the other one away count as anonymous?” asks Gina. “Also, who would possibly want to take either of you home? We already have to see you all day at work. Our homes are sanctuaries. Havens. Freedom.”
“I would take Hitchcock home,” says Scully, looking hurt. “I would consider it an honour, actually.”
Gina squeezes her eyes shut.
“Me, too,” says Hitchcock. “And my Kelly would love to see more of Scully, too. Scully’s blue steak is better than Charles’s,” he says in a loud aside.
“Go,” says Gina in a terrible voice.
Nails: Santa Hats With Bells and Rings On
“-- and home-grown Spanish roses,” finishes Amy. She hands over her receipt. “I didn’t think you’d need to see them, but I can bring them in for you to inspect if you like.” She looks hopefully at Gina, back straight, heels clicked together.
“That won’t be necessary,” says Gina. “I see you’ve spent $19.98. Well done, little manatee.”
Nails: Santa Hats With Bells and Rings On, Two Sprigs of Holly
“Yes,” says Holt. “I am … doing well.”
“I’m going to need to see any receipts, Captain.”
The Captain looks away. “I -- am afraid I am not in a position to do that yet. I -- have not yet had an opportunity to purchase the items I am gifting.”
Gina narrows her eyes. “Far be it from me to tell my Captain he’s looking shifty,” she begins.
“Far indeed,” says Holt, with more emotion than Gina has ever been able to discern in his voice. “Gina! I am, and remain, your boss. I will show you receipts if and when I deem it necessary to the good of this precinct. Ah -- you have worked very hard today. If you would like to take this afternoon off to finish any gift-wrapping or -- dance practice you may need to do, by all means, I encourage you to do so.”
“Nice try, Captain,” says Gina. “But my presence here is all that’s keeping the team’s secrets secret. Besides, I still have people to check up on.”
She wags a finger. Holt wilts.
Nails: Entirely Holly
“I know exactly what I’m giving,” says Terry. “An experience day. I got to spend all day with my babies last Saturday while my wife went zorbing with her sister and she said it added years to her life. Our girls’ girls are going to get to love her like they do. So I found a Groupon deal and got a cheese and wine-tasting.” He beams. “He’ll love it.”
Nails: The Holly and The Ivy
Charles is gifting an experience day, too.
“This is an IOU,” he says, waving a gilt-edged card under Gina’s nose. “A romantic dinner for my person and their guest, Chez Charles Boyle. Which really means Chez Their House, because I’m still living with my ex-wife and her lover and occasionally the couple they swing with while my new apartment is decorated, but I thought inviting myself to my person’s house without permission might be considered overstepping. $20 will cover the price of dinner.”
“Good call, Charles,” says Gina, stamping him in.
Nails: The Holly, The Ivy, and A Treeful of Mistletoe
“Easy,” says Rosa, and presents her receipt for examination. “Same as I get everyone. A handle of whiskey, and an extra for each $5 on the spending limit.”
She deposits a handful of brown bags onto Gina’s desk, and stalks back to her own.
“To each her own,” says Gina, adding a sprig of red ribbon to the bags.
(The Day Before) Christmas
Nails: Snowmen With Carrot Noses
They make it almost all the way through The Big Day (“Gina, we’re not only here to open presents,” says Holt, for the third time that morning) when Wuntch slithers through the door.
“Urgh,” says Gina, watching through the window as the Deputy-Chief Octopus Queen puts her grubby little fingers all over the pile of gifts on top of or leaning somewhere to the left of Gina’s desk.
“Agreed,” says Holt, and stands to meet her at the door. “Madeline. What an unpleasant surprise.”
The She-Witch turns. “My, my, Raymond,” she says. “I had no idea you made such high demands of your team. I was always under the impression you had rather a weak touch with them.”
“Secret Santa is commonly understood to be an innocent bonding experience for the holidays,” says Holt. “Something I’m sure you wouldn’t understand.”
“Perfectly,” says Wuntch. Her lips stretch. “But I’m concerned about your own understanding. The rules are rather difficult to mistake -- perhaps it’s time to move on, if you have such a poor handle on such simple rules.”
Holt frowns. “I assure you, I am in perfect control of my mental faculties. Gina, perhaps you could explain to dear Madeline how -- Gina? Where are you going?”
“Damn it,” says Gina halfway out the door.
“What is going on?” asks Holt. “Why is the Deputy Chief so determined to make such a typical fool of herself?”
Gina turns on the spot. “This is actually a modified version of Secret Santa,” she says. “One where there aren’t quite as many recipients as normal, and instead there are lots of gifts for one person.”
“Your faculties may be one thing,” says Wuntch. “But it rather sounds like you’ve lost control of your team, starting -- or perhaps finishing -- with your administrator. How does that feel, Raymond? Should I take your resignation now, or will you take one more holiday ?”
“I would sooner die,” snarls the Captain. “Peralta, Diaz! Please escort Deputy Chief Wuntch to this beautiful snowscene.” He gestures at the blizzard through the window. “I need a word with Gina.”
“Right you are, sir,” chirps Jake, colliding with Rosa in their mutual rush to comply.
The Office Floor
Nails: Snowmen With Carrots For Noses and Candy Cane Earrings
The Captain stands tall in the centre of the room. “It has come to my attention that the game has been sabotaged,” he says. “I apologise for the trouble you have all gone to to find gifts for me. If you wish, Gina and I will reimburse you.”
All eyes are on the pile of gifts addressed to Captain Holt.
“Wait,” says Jake. “You mean --”
“Yes. I have just learned that you were all assigned to me for the exchange.”
Gina continues adding top coat to her nails, carefully avoiding Holt’s gaze.
“I like it,” announces Rosa matter-of-factly. “You’re very easy to get presents for.”
“Does this mean -- Jake!” yells Boyle. “I can talk to you again!”
“That’s right, buddy,” says Jake, bringing it in with a full-body hug. “Happy holidays! Sir, I haven’t slept in the last 72 hours in the preparation of your gift. If you return it I’ll cry and interrupt your Christmas with your husband to give it back.
“Me, too,” says Rosa, and at the ensuing bemused silence, “that was a joke. Give me back my gift.”
Gina hurls herself across her desk to protect the presents. "No take-backsies!"
“That was also a joke,” says Rosa, unsmiling.
The Office Floor, Still
Nails: Still Snowmen With Carrots For Noses and Candy Cane Earrings
“I’m sorry, sir, this was the closest I could come to a lamborghini,” Jake says. He eyes the bicycle. “I tried to renegotiate my rent so I could get you a Squadra but Gina wouldn’t consider any of my payment plans.”
“Sorry not sorry,” says Gina. “Secret Santa rules prohibit the renegotiation of lease terms to include guitar lessons as rent money. I speak as the Secret Santa god.”
“You play guitar?” says Charles. “My god, you get more brilliant by the minute.”
“I do. If you can call six chords and my own personal version of Jingle Bells playing guitar. And that doesn’t even make sense, Linetti. You are the Secret Santa god. God, I can’t believe you’ve made me say that out loud, how am I supposed to get around you? It would only have taken me three years to pay for if I’d stopped eating and buying things and going to places and committed major fraud.” Jake glares around the room. “I knew I should have moved into the break room.”
“I’d have visited you there every day,” says Boyle. He gives Jake a mournful look. “And made you breakfast on sleepovers.”
“Nevertheless,” says the Captain. “I for one am grateful that you didn’t exceed the spending limit 10,000 times over. That is a form of rule-breaking that I could not have overlooked. This rainbow bicycle is -- very aesthetically pleasing.”
They all watch as the left-side pedal falls off.
“Let’s move on,” says Amy hastily. “How about you open -- this one, next?” She hands him the wicker basket. “Technically, this was all stuff I had lying around my apartment, so it didn’t cost me anything extra.”
“You’re giving away your label-maker?” says Jake. “You once jumped out of a second-storey window to stop a thief getting away with that thing -- and I will regret not asking him why he took that and not the four-slot toaster until my last day as a police officer, by the way -- and now you’re just giving it away?”
“It was my emergency spare,” says Amy. “For Christmas, I happen to be giving myself a new emergency spare.”
Rosa is busy poking through the next layer of the basket. “Who has seventeen Lush items lying around? Your apartment must smell like a ...”
“Concentrated rose garden,” says Gina, nodding. “I recently had the misfortune of getting caught in the rain without a manservant to hold an umbrella over my hair and I decided recuperating in Amy’s hallway was preferable to regretting my decision to turn down a drawer in Charles’s apartment six blocks further on. I did find myself pleasantly surprised, though. Amy has mascara and lipstick in her bathroom cupboard!”
Amy looks stuck between preening and growling. Gina decides to make it easy for her and gives her a little pat on the head.
“These roses truly are beautiful, Santiago,” says Holt. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” says Amy. “Raymond. Captain.”
“So this just leaves …”
“I have already given the Captain my gift,” says Gina. “A videotape of me dancing. I decided against giving it to him for Secret Santa. He’s a detective, I thought he’d work out it was from me.”
“No,” says Jake. “The Captain. Who did you get?”
“I also got my own name. But --”
“Captain,” says Amy, shocked.
“Captain,” says Jake, with some disappointment.
The Captain looks hunted. “But, as I considered my own good fortune, I found I could not justify simply giving myself a gift and pretending it was from one of you. I, too, have prepared something for each of you. And lost sleep over it,” he says, nodding at Jake. “Kevin was rather displeased.”
Holt looks to Terry, who nods and vanishes into his office. “More accurately,” Holt continues, “this is a gift for you, Gina.”
Terry reappears and begins handing out identical and beautifully wrapped parcels to the team.
“Although I confess to feeling a little … played, as it were,” says Holt, nodding at Gina, “I do recognise that this wily trickery comes from a place of good-heartedness and holiday cheer. For that reason, I decided to give you what I thought you would enjoy the most.”
“Oh, lord,” mutters Rosa.
Gina’s mouth drops. “Sparkle surprise,” she breathes.
Seven beautiful variations on her face sparkle back at her from seven hot pink t-shirts. “Happy holidays, me!” she addresses each in turn, beaming.
"Thanks for truly bringing holiday spirit to this office," Holt says and everyone pulls on their shirt. It is truly a sight behold.